Landmark agreement offers a brighter future for migrating right whales

Wind energy companies and environmental groups have come together Recently an agreement was launched marking the beginning of a new way to support clean, sustainable, offshore energy development, AND conserve our nation’s marine animals.

In the landmark agreement, several leading offshore wind energy companies and environmental groups came together in favor of a plan to safely develop offshore wind energy along the East Coast without harming the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.

Under the terms of the agreement, offshore wind developers will voluntarily take additional measures in the Mid-Atlantic beyond those that will be required by law. 

The objective is to ensure better protection of right whales during site assessment and characterization activities necessary for offshore wind energy development when the whales are migrating through the region.

The agreement is the result of collaborative efforts between Deepwater Wind, NRG Bluewater Wind and Energy Management Inc. (owner of Cape Wind in Massachusetts), and the Conservation Law Foundation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the National Wildlife Federation.

Including the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the agreement also had the support of other such leading environmental organizations as Environment America, the New England Aquarium, Oceana, the Sierra Club, and the Southern Environmental Law Center. 

This collaborative agreement could not have come at a better time.

Last Wednesday, the Obama administration announced funding to help launch the U.S. offshore wind industry. The Department of Energy said the funding will expedite the development of the nation’s first offshore wind farms.

With environmental groups and wind energy developers working together early on, we can hopefully mitigate the impacts that offshore energy development can have on marine life.

IFAW is very invested in the protection of right whales and was proud to sign on to the letter addressed to Maureen Bornholdt, the Renewable Energy Program Manager in the Office of Renewable Energy at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), supporting this agreement and seeking to inspire BOEM to get on board with negotiations of stricter mitigation measures in the future.

If this model succeeds it could be very helpful for future mitigation negotiations with all offshore energy developers in other areas of the US as well.

This agreement is not only a success for the whales, but also highlights IFAW’s successful approach to collaboration, bringing us together to partner with NGOs and industry for development of common sense solutions fit for the modern age.

--MC

For more information about our efforts to protect whales around the world, visit our whales campaign page.

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Experts

Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Dr. Ralf (Perry) Sonntag, Country Director, Germany
Country Director, Germany
Isabel McCrea, Regional Director, Oceania
Regional Director, Oceania
IFAW Japan Representative
IFAW Japan Representative
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Whales
Robbie Marsland, Regional Director, United Kingdom
Regional Director, United Kingdom